Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Child Killer Drowns Himself

There was a double tragedy in 1901 when a man killed his landlord's daughter before drowning himself in a dock, with no motive for his crime ever being established.

6 year old Eveline Christopherson lived with her parents at 36 Parr Street and for some extra income they took in a lodger, labourer John Bennett who was originally from Hull. On Tuesday 15th January Mrs Christopherson had to go out for shopping and left Eveline in the house with Bennett, but when she returned both were missing and the child's room was in a disorderly state.

After nobody in the neighbourhood could shed any light on the situation Eveline was reported as missing to the police and shortly before midnight her body was found in an ashpit behind the house. Her throat had been cut and she appeared to have been strangled, a cloth having been tied tightly around her neck. Eveline's brother had  been in the street and seen Bennett run off at about ten past six, having just carried a bundle into the yard which he saw through the keyhole when he knocked on the door.

Police soon circulated Bennett's description and all train stations were watched. Although all the evidence pointed to Bennett as the killer, there was still no known motive as he has shown no untoward tendencies towards his hosts, although he had been morose on many occasions.

On Monday 21st January Eveline was buried at Anfield Cemetery, with a large crowd lining the route as her coffin was taken there from Parr Street. On the same day, a spiritualist contacted the police to say that Bennett was hiding in a brick shelter on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool canal near Preston. Enquiries with the North Lancashire Constabulary confirmed that they knew the shelter in question and it could be somewhere were a fugitive would hide out. However a search of the premises and area found no trace of him.

The whereabouts of Bennett were finally solved on 23rd January, when a body was found on the sill of Salisbury Dock. It matched Bennett's description and was identified by a police constable who once worked with him on a railway, as well as Mrs Christopherson. Bennett's father, an iron moulder, also travelled from Hull.

Inquests were held three days later into the deaths of both Eveline and Bennett, who had been heard to say he would murder someone and swing for it if he couldn't find work. After hearing of Eveline's injuries and the fact that Bennett's trouser pockets had been filled with stones, the jury returned a verdict of wilful murder by Bennett on Eveline, and suicide for him.

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